Investing in Health

Priority Research Theme: Neuroscience and Mental Health

Converting Laboratory Discoveries Into Powerful Treatments

Theme Co-Leaders: Professor Bernard Balleine and Associate Professor Anthony Harris

Neuroscience research has made impressive strides over the past several decades. Recent medical and scientific advances, including imaging, in genetics and in the fundamental sciences, are now opening the door to an unprecedented and rapidly advancing era in neuroscience research.

The Neuroscience and Mental Health theme has been meeting regularly since late 2010. The initial collaborations of our enthusiastic group estalbished that to be effective, the theme should encompass neuroscience and mental health beyond the Sydney Medical School alone, and recruit a number of key members from outside the School.

This aim clearly positions the theme as a network within the University to provide a stimulating forum for neuroscience and mental health researchers and teachers, to foster cross-disciplinary and multidisciplinary research and research training, to develop and enrich the teaching of neuroscience and mental health, and to attract new avenues of funding support for our innovative researchers and educators.

Research on the workings of the brain and the nervous system cover a complex span of enquiry from structure to function of the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscle, through genetics, biochemistry and physiology to pharmacology and pathology. While our committed neurophysiologists diagnose human motor control disorders and our compassionate neuroscientists investigate and treat the neuromuscular disorders that are a major cause of ongoing disability in childhood, others investigate diseases of the brain and mind, including substance abuse, clinical depression and dementia.

The University's distinguished researchers and therapists demonstrate a vast range of expertise in both basic and clinical science, and work closely to ensure that exciting laboratory discoveries today are translated beyond the clinic into real and valuable answers for affected patients and their families tomorrow.

Funding Opportunity: Developing Novel Therapies for Alzheimer's Disease

Associate Professor Lars Ittner and his team propose to exactly determine the cellular and molecular mechanism initiated, when amyloid-β and tau together initiate the neurodegenerative processes that eventually lead to Alzheimer's disease. They will then determine how their therapeutic approach prevents these mechanisms from happening. This will enable them to develop a tailored therapy, aimed at halting disease progression in patients with Alzheimer's disease and equally importantly at delaying (or even preventing) the onset of the disease altogether.

With numbers of sufferers on the rise and no effective treatment available, research into basic mechanisms in Alzheimer's disease need to be intensified to provide the basis for development of new therapies. Here, the outlined project is at the forefront of the field. More specifically, this project will identify earliest mechanisms involved in the onset of dementia and provide novel approaches to prevent the disease and its progression in the near future.

Staff support and laboratory supplies $58,000 per year
Over three years = $174,000